Friday, October 26, 2012

2012 Season Lows and Highs

As athletes, we experience a lot of ups and downs throughout the season. I find it hard to believe that given the pressure many of us put on ourselves combined with the countless hours of workouts (although often fun in the end) there aren’t some war wounds, tender emotions, and broken hearts when we come up short. But there are also a lot of celebrations, big and small, that take place during racing seasons. So here is my list of highs and lows for the year.

Lows – I’m starting with the lows, because I want to end this post on a high note. In looking back on some of my recent posts I realize that I’ve been somewhat of a killjoy the past couple months. This isn’t my personality, nor do I want that to be the tone of this blog. Also putting many of the memories down on paper this season I’m realizing (though I already knew this) that the highs definitely outweigh the lows. And sorry if this seems a little whiny, because I know I'm lucky to be able to do what I do. These are just my thoughts.
  • Not racing IM Coeur d’Alene – although I wanted to mix it up a bit this year, I did miss the IM course that has been a place for PR’s the past 4 years.
  • My first DNFyes, it sucked to sit on the sidelines at Grandma’s waiting for a ride to the finish line.
  • Not hitting a lot of the time goals I set for myself. It’s time to reassess and move on. And believe me – big goals for 2013. I know success in sport takes patience and I’m looking forward to finding out what’s next.
  • Missing the PRs – ever since I’ve started working with Coach K in 2009, I’ve PR’ed in every distance (sprint tri, HIM, IM, half marathon, full marathon) every season. This year: one measly 5 minute PR in the HIM distance. I think I’ve gotten a bit greedy in this regard. It’s fun to blow by the old times, but I need to recognize the other small victories that can occur during a workout, a race, and a season.
  • Feeling lethargic in training after IMSG and having to rest.
Phew! I think that’s it. I’m happy to wash my hands of the lows and to learn from them.
Highs – Another season of fun memories and so many laughs! And as I type this, I get a little teary realizing just how lucky I am to fall in love with a sport and lifestyle year after year. There are probably more little ones that I'm missing.
  • Spending my 30th birthday weekend in Oceanside
  • Surviving IM St. George and the trip to Vegas post-race
  • Morning lake swims Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the summer the routine was this: meet at the lake, hang out, shimmy into wetsuit, swim, shimmy out of wetsuit, hang out, buy coffee and donuts, bemoan going to work, laugh, plan the next one. Tuesday mornings were spent at Madison Park, Friday mornings were spent at the I-90 bridge. Shortest swim: 30 minutes (when the lake was below 60 degrees, I was tapering/recovering). Longest swim (the donut swim): 3 miles.
  • Finishing 1-2 at Troika Half Iron with Sydnie – despite a less than stellar finish for me, I was beaming with pride to see my best friend hit a PR.
  • No major pain after recovering from my winter shoulder injury.
  • Buying a Quarq – looking forward to geeking out on power numbers and dialing it in for training in 2013. Yes, I realize I’m behind the times.
  • 10 weekends spent in Eastern WA, near Lake Chelan
  • 4th of July week spent with family and friends
  • New sponsorship with Oiselle
  • Hood to Coast! – As usual, it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. This year my team (Puke & Rally) was neck and neck with our rivals – the NY Bad Apples. I had the final leg and was able to chase down their runner and hold her off. She was right on my heels with one mile to go! Our ~200 mile relay came down to the last mile and I was able to put 19 seconds into her. I put my head down and didn’t look back as we raced to the beach! Puke & Rally had one of their highest finishes at the infamous race – 3rd for mixed open and 20th overall!
Weekend of the Year! 200 mile relay from Mt. Hood
to the Oregon Coast! Puke and Rally 4 Life!!

  • Ironman Canada Camp – despite the fact the WTC will no longer hold their race in Penticton; I had a great time checking out the course with my teammates who raced IMC this year.
  • Summer Park Tours – a little tradition that involves bikes, sixers of Coors Light, and Seattle parks. 1) Find a guy and a sixer of beer. 2) Get on bikes. 3) Find a park. 4) Drink a beer with said guy. 5) Repeat steps 2-4 until the sun goes down. (And if things go really well, start dating this guy.)
  • Having my family and friends with me at Ironman Wisconsin
Clockwise from top left: Park Tour at Lake Union in Seattle, Eastern WA
riding, Troika 1/2 Iron with Sydnie, PauoleSport teammates at a Friday
lake swim, bike and typical packing for training weekends in Chelan

Another race season has come and gone. There have been many highs and lows this year, but like I said in my Kona race report last year:

The successes of this year can’t only be measured in race finishes and PRs. Although it’s nice to shave minutes here and there and stand on top of a podium, the real joy I find in this sport is through the lifestyle it has given me, the relationships I’ve made, and the lessons I’ve learned.”
This still rings true. So although I’m not rolling in the trophies or trying to pimp myself out to new sponsors (not that I’ve ever really done this), there were some unforgettable moments in 2012 that in the grand scheme of life were better and sweeter than any finish time out there.
I have a handful of quotes that I’ve written on post-it notes and put up at work. Here’s one that sums up the ways I’ve found triumph this season:
“Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don’t have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.” –Amby Burfoot
Every year in this sport I learn so much more about myself and what makes me happy – surrounding myself with like-minded athletes is a constant source of happiness. There is so much motivation and passion out there! This year I’ve broken more into the cyber world of triathlon friends and been able to follow the highs and lows of many blog followers and Tweeters. So thank you all for reading this year. It’s been fun to draw on your enthusiasm for the sport and also share my stories.
Looking forward to new memories in the 2013 season!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

While You Were Racing

I was a bit worried as October approached. I figured while the *rest of the triathlon world was getting strong and lean to prepare for the World Championships, I’d get the off-season blues that would result in feelings of remorse and envy. I was worried every other athlete would get fitter, as I just got paler. I thought I’d replay in my mind the awards banquet from St. George where I forfeited my Kona spot and let it roll down. But only a small part of me would like to be there racing. The past two years I’ve been so caught up in the Kona action to miss the fact that most people (*the real rest of the triathlon world) finish their year much earlier. They are able to enjoy the change of seasons without focusing on a taper, avoiding a cold, and flying to Hawaii.
*I sometimes forget that the triathlon world is mostly made up of people who do not get to race in Kona and that is perfectly okay!
Of course I’d trade a day at my office for a swim in Kailua Bay, breakfast at Lava Java, a run on Ali’i Drive, and some free swag from the race expo. But I’m kind of enjoying fall in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve had some amazing weather in Seattle over the past four weeks and I’ve done my share of leisurely swimming, biking, and running – just enough to not feel super lazy, but certainly not too much. I’ve reorganized things at home, tried some new recipes, gone out for drinks with friends, tailgated, gone to football games, avoided the post-race sickness, and gotten enough out of shape to start to look forward to next season’s race calendar.
Yesterday my best friend Sydnie and my teammate Hallie both asked me if I missed Kona or if I was sad seeing all the updates on Twitter. My answer: not really. It’s a little weird to see the pictures, but all the action looks a lot like 2011. I honestly feel like I’m looking at pictures that were posted a year ago, just different swimsuits and kits – all super cute, of course. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the race and the experience for the past two years. But spending this October NOT in Kona has helped me realize that life goes on without racing in Hawaii and without a rigorous training schedule. Life without Kona actually has a lot of perks.
It’s true; I want to go back to race in Kona someday. And don’t get me wrong, racing in Hawaii was one of the best experiences of my life. I’d go as far to say that the first year I raced there was “one of the happiest days of my life” (seriously, I think I smiled throughout all 140.6 miles) and last year was my favorite vacation ever. But this year a break was much needed. As I sit hear listening to The Avett Brothers “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” after attending a beer tasting with a couple Oiselle teammates, I find myself completely content with my decision not to race in Kona. I know it wasn’t a perfect year of racing, so beginning my off-season a month early this year was for the best and a chance to step away from all the World Championship hype.
Best of luck to everyone racing on Saturday! Like my check-in volunteer told me in 2010, “May it be the day of your dreams.” I will be watching and cheering from afar, meanwhile accepting the fact that my dreams and life were a bit different this year.

PS – also while I write, I’m simmering this soup that I just whipped up. It’s from one of my favorite food bloggers. Hallie - do you approve? :) I’ll either serve it with part of dinner tomorrow to celebrate my friend Annabelle’s birthday (also making homemade mac & cheese, roasted vegetables, a kale salad, homemade butter & bread) or save it for the weekend. Molly Wizenberg says, “It also screams for a beer. It says October.” I thought it was very fitting.

Some lovely Northwest riding


UW beats #8 Stanford

Sunrise Swimming